Hi Big Sky!

So far, Montana is treating me very well indeed! The people have been unfailingly friendly and kind, and the sun continues to shine.

After leaving Eureka, I got overtaken by bumped into some others also cycling the Divide and we spent a couple of days together. One of them is an expert on this sort of thing and put me on a kit diet, and I have now lost 8Ibs by following the UPS weight-loss plan and shipping stuff I don’t need to my cousin. He urged me to ditch things I was mulling over whether to part ways with, with a “Anna, if you’re even thinking about it, you don’t need it – it’s gone already”. So I’ve said goodbye to my stove and after a “those pants [trousers] – off, you don’t need ’em” I’ve said goodbye to several items of relaxed loungewear and god knows what else but it somehow came to 8Ibs worth of stuff.

After lightening the load I thought “I am going to be cooking on gas now!” and sure enough my flame that was previously barely lit is now at gas mark 2 and I have seen some improvement in my performance. The route instructions of “start climbing” that used to mean “get off your bike, have a biscuit, put Phil Collins on then start walking until you’re at the top of the hill” now actually means “start climbing”. I did a 6 mile climb the other day which I’m quite proud of!

The good thing about climbs is that you get a chance to safely cycle without a helmet and let what I used to call my hair, breathe. My ‘hair’ seems to have been replaced by some sort of organic matter that resides upon my head. I’m not sure when I last washed it, but I know I was in a different country at the time. I’m a bit worried that things have got so bad that I’m going to need extensive massaging in the sink with some heavy duty detergent, like a cormorant post oil-spill disaster. Hopefully that will disperse the worst of the oil and dirt to allow the shampoo to penetrate through to the hair underneath.

I could have washed it when we camped in the back garden of Rita and Chuck, a very generous couple who offer their property on the Warm Showers website but felt a bit bad if all 4 of us had one! I left the others to spend an extra day at Rita and Chuck’s place in Whitefish and carried on alone as I move at a more refined pace and knew I’d see them again at some point when they overtook me again.

I wasn’t alone for long as people are extremely friendly and most people I see on the logging roads I’ve mostly been riding on (who are usually collecting firewood or going huckleberry picking) stop for a chat. And I had dinner and drinks bought for me in Ferndale after a pit-stop for chicken and chips before heading off into the wilds to camp. A table of locals saw me/smelt me, realised what I was doing and said I could camp out the back of the Roadhouse. Imagine something in middle-of-nowhere America that’s called the Roadhouse and you’re probably close to imagining what type of joint this was. I offered to buy them a beer to say thanks for the camping tip and next thing I know I’ve had a great night with new BF’s Joey, Fella, Bob and River the multiple-tasking Golden Retriever who will be “your hunting partner, your best friend and then he’ll sniff your cancer”. I’ve left them worrying that WWIII is about to break out as “we’ve let Germany get strong again and look what happened last time we let that happen”. Not sure that’s number 1 on my list of global concerns but maybe I’m being naive!

The Roadhouse

The Roadhouse

Next day I wild-camped as wanted to go a bit further than the recommended mileage (as that is how I roll nowadays) and drifted off to sleep after being handed a cold beer by an RV driver who was blatantly massively lost and blatantly not wanting to tell his crew he was massively lost. Those little moments of generosity are what have characterised Montana thus far. That and snakes.

Snakes are going great guns on the animal scoring chart! I’ve now seen 5 although 3 have, similarly to the first one, had 5 points deducted by being dead but one was alive and elicited a loud gasp so that gets 9 points. And we have a new entrant! I was camped on the shored of Clearwater Lake, lying on my side looking out the tent and a beaver goes sailing past. 10 points for being cute and swimming serenely, head above water like girls do when they don’t want to get their hair wet.

So that’s Montana for now, and it’s getting more and more beautiful as I continue to gain altitude and leave the low-lying land around the border behind. Excitingly for me and no one else, I’m now on the 2nd side of the Montana map and yesterday was my one-fifth anniversary having done 20% of the route and given most people don’t finish it, I’m pretty happy with 20%.



13 thoughts on “Hi Big Sky!

  1. 8lbs!!

    I am perhaps missing the point, but think about how much more cheese you could have eaten before leaving!

    Hope you’re making up for it now. Or maybe not, given the probable lack if anything other than “cheese product in a squeeze bottle”

    20% in 2 weeks? You can basically walk for the final month already (and you’re only going to get stronger 🙂 )


    • Funny you say that about the “cheese”, I have a couple of aptly-named Meat and Cheese sticks ready to be devoured. Like a pepparami with a Cheese String housed next door. Jealous?


  2. Awesome progress! Love the fact the you are foregoing additional rest days and heading off on the trail. Sounds like you’re really getting into your stride.

    The SPOT is working well – only seems to have a couple of ‘track’ messages per day, but with the ‘check-in’ messages as well, it’s enough to see that you’re still moving even with a few quiet days on the blog.

    The weight loss instructions are good for me as I start to try to pack the bike… But I’m wondering how heavy those pants were…?!


    • Haha, yep, must have been MASSIVE pants! Amazed at how much it all weighed. And now so much more space and packing each morning isn’t such a chore as I can just chuck stuff in. This guy Greg is extreme – he wonders round in his waterproof trousers and jacket at night! Send me your kit list and I’ll remotely shout ‘Oi, Chris, nooooooooo, out already!’.
      Erm, do you know what page to go to to change your tracking interval? Find the SPOT website so confusing! Mines on 10 mins and need to change it. Don’t normally have it on to save battery but might if I change the interval. And it’d be better that way as I think the end of day check-ins might just look like I travel down flat valleys as often you end lower down by a water source.
      I’ve seen a split infinitive in my post. It cut like a knife. This blogging is over!


  3. So cousin Michael is now 8lbs heavier then?! Sounds like you’re making some good buddies out there Smallgirl. Going down like a Bomb! xx. p.s. surely self-cleaning hair kicks in about now??!


    • One would think!
      I’m going to lose the others in a bit but I’m good for that. Don’t feel lonely. And they’re way too fit for my liking and I have to keep up whilst having a small heart attack.


  4. Am loving the blog!!
    Can’t believe you cheated so early with the quad bike incident!
    Oh well at least you didn’t have to learn the hard way ‘that cheats never prosper’, by succumbing to being murdered during the incident! You would have kicked yourself then!
    So 20% done already, wow, you’re really just planning a month in Mexico aren’t you?
    Pocna, here she comes…….!


  5. I’m going to eschew the compliments and congratulations because you appear to have plenty already.

    To try and unpick the second round fog – the driest place is in Antarctica and the hottest is in Ethopia. Thought we’d had the first one before.

    My limited research suggests that Montana is named after the famous Hannah Montana. Who played her in the series? And as a tricky two parter, what was the name of the eponymous characters regular alter ego?

    Are you coming quiz tomorrow? Given you are ahead of schedule and don’t need rest days, presumably you can just casually pop over to Balham a couple of hours.


    • As I said, Antartica and Ethiopia. I believe we’ve had ‘name the driest continent’ and you and Neil banded around a few ideas before I deftly stepped in with Antartica and you both thought ‘we’re so lucky to have her’.
      Miley ‘the tongue’ Cyrus. Alter ego Billy Ray.
      I’m just pulling up to the border now so should be good for quiz on Monday


  6. Anna, it was a delight for my husband Larry and I to meet you in Lima, Montana, at the cozy restaurant. Remember, we said we entered looking for the bicyclist and my husband said he was looking for the “guy”–surprising to meet your cute little “girl-self”!!!! Love that! We thought about you each day on our travels back to Las Vegas (and our side trips along the way) imagining you in some of the rough weather we encountered. We had the truck with camper and you only had you. Wow! You SO impressed and inspired us! We wish you much safety and fun on your journey and I’m sure your travels/adventures will continue the rest of your life. You are a highlight of our travels. Best wishes always and we will continue to check in on your blog. HAPPY TRAILS, ANNA!!! Pat and Larry


    • Hi Pat and Larry, that’s such a lovely comment and nearly made me cry (in a good way!). It was great to meet you – nice people such as yourselves are one of the best parts of the trip! – and glad to hear you got back to Vegas safely as they were some storms. Bye for now, Anna


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